“These fee increases will allow us to continue protecting, preserving, and sharing Arches and Canyonlands National Parks with current and future visitors,” said Superintendent Kate Cannon.
“After careful consideration of the impacts of a fee increase on visitors and the community, we have concluded that this is the right thing to do in order to improve park facilities and important visitor services.”
To encourage visitors to enter the park during less crowded times, Arches National Park will periodically offer reduced entrance fees for private vehicles during off-peak hours.
While seasonal crowding is a growing problem at Arches National Park, the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park has experienced a significant decrease in visitiation over time.
Visitation to the Needles peaked in 1993 at 178,171 visitors. In 2012, the most recent year that visitation figures are available, there were just 118,386 visitors to the Needles.
Natural Bridges National Monument completed a similar fee increase proposal process and will implement its fee increases on October 1, 2015 as well. The camping fee at Natural Bridges will remain $10 per night.
Entrance fees at Hovenweep were eliminated, and the camping fee remains $10 per night as well.
A wide variety of projects funded by fee revenues have improved the parks and visitor experiences over the years including upgrade of vault toilets, expansion of parking areas, and improvement of backcountry campsites.
Examples of how additional revenue from these fee increases will be used include creation of picnic facilities, rehabilitation of hiking trails, and repair of road shoulders.
In the fall of 2014, the National Park Service conducted a nationwide review of entrance fees. To solicit public input, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks launched a civic engagement campaign in January, 2015.
The public involvement process included social media posts, a news release, local press interviews, and a public open house held in Moab on January 29, 2015.
During the public comment period, the park received more than 200 formal comments regarding the proposed fee increases. While the majority of comments supported the increases, others felt a lower fee for motorcycles was warranted.
In response, the fee proposal was modified to lower the motorcycle fee from $20 to $15.